Thursday, 27 January 2011

Domaine de Chevalier

One of the highlights of visiting the various Chateaux with Bella Wine Tours is meeting some of the characters who make the wine. Some of the Chateaux owners live far away, some Chateaux are owned by large insurance companies or multinational cosmetics companies. But many of the Chateaux which we visit have a common theme. The people are truly passionate about wine. They adore their jobs and their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion is evident.
One of the highlights of last year was when I took a small group of UK clients on a Bordeaux Day trip as the clients were already on holiday staying nearby in the Dordogne.

The group wanted a relaxed day, without being too intense, too 'winey' and to include a couple of big names!
So we decided to explore the Graves and Sauternes area.
We visited Chateau La Louviere the stunning property owned by Andre Lurton and tasted the wines. Then we visited Domaine de Chevalier in the Pessac Leognan area. This immaculate property is owned by Olivier Bernard, the charismatic French man whose family bought the estate in 1983. The estate is not organic or biodynamic but they are very careful with spraying and vineyard treatments. They are in a very wooded area just to the south of Bordeaux, so they are more prone to disease and infection and frost.

We met Remi Edange, who is Olivier Bernard's right hand man at the estate. It was evident that Remi was completely obsessed and totally driven by the estate and viticulture. At the estate we had the astonishing good luck to taste some of the 2010 white wines that were just being gently pressed. We tasted some incredible free run Sauvignon Blanc juice from the press. What an experience.

We then had a quick look around the cellars, whilst trying to keep out of the way of the workers, before adjourning to taste some wines.

We tasted barrel samples of Domaine de Chevalier red and white from the excellent 2009 vintage. We also tasted Domaine de Chevalier 2005 red just for a bit of fun. (still very young but an amazing wine)
I firmly believe that Domaine de Chevalier wines are some of the best value wines in Bordeaux in context with what is happening with the price of the First Growths. These wines are for true wine drinkers, not necessarily for speculators.
After Remi's passionate explanations and history of the family, the property and his unbounded enthusiasm for life.....and after tasting the stunning wines.....we decided it was time for a decent lunch. So we went to the excellent restaurant Table du Lavoir at the 5 star Vinotherapy hotel Les Sources de Caudalie.
In the afternoon we were planning to visit Chateau d'Yquem!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Andrew Lloyd Webber Wine Sale-Result

Well the market in Hong Kong for fine wine certainly remains buoyant.
The sale of a large amount of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's wine cellar raised $HK43.3 million ($5.6 million or £3.5 million).
The highest prices were 12 bottles of Chateau Petrus 1982 ($HK 605,000 = £48,000), which was 26 per cent more than the high estimate. The second highest lot was 12 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982 ($HK459,800= £37,000)
“I hope the new owners enjoy my wines as much as I have and look forward to reacquainting myself with them in restaurants all over China when Cats starts its national tour in Mandarin,” Lloyd Webber, 62, said in a statement from Sothebys.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Andrew Lloyd Webber Hong Kong Wine Auction

Here is an interesting interview by Serena Sutcliffe MW with Lord Lloyd Webber. The interview is timed for the Sotheby's auction tomorrow (January 22nd) in Hong Kong of part of his wine cellar.
Lord Lloyd Webber has been a massive wine collector for many years.
It is interesting the link between fine art and wine collecting. His first love of Burgundy was inspired from the amazing architecture of the churches and the villages. I must say whenever I think Burgundy I think of the incredible mosaic of roof tiles and rolling hills with rooftops of hidden villages. However I am some way short of Lord L-W's cellar!!
Great to hear the gushing awe when Serena and Andrew talk about the legendary Chateau Palmer 1961. Like naughty school children. It will be interesting to see the prices achieved at this auction. The major auction houses have not been slow to develop links with the expanding Asian fine wine market.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Rugby, Horse racing and Wine!

Yes, you can combine my three favorite pastimes!
Fortunately the south of France has some of the best rugby clubs.....Toulouse, Perpignan, Montpellier, Narbonne and Beziers for starters. Most of these teams play in the European leagues..Heineken Cup. So if you want to follow your UK or Irish rugby club when they are playing the French side AND you want to combine a wine tasting/tour then drop me a line.
The Irish rugby team are also playing a warm up game against the French side in Bordeaux in August ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

The French love horse racing too. Many of the top tracks are in and around Paris, such as Chantilly, Longchamps or Maison Lafitte. However we have a few hidden gems in the south of France. Pau racetrack has a fantastic winter festival with great jump racing, whilst Le Bouscat in Bordeaux has year round flat, jump and trotters.

We can combine vineyard and Chateaux visits with many different sporting or cultural events. Or simply combine a wine trip with you holiday in the south of France! for more details.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Happy New Year 2011!!!

I am not entirely sure when it is respectable to stop saying 'Happy New Year' to people. But as this is my first blog post of 2011, I certainly wish everyone a great 2011.
It has been a very busy start to the year. For the last two weeks I have been traveling in Bordeaux. Lots of wine tasting, Chateaux visits and meeting new and old friends. Bordeaux is a strange place. It is a classic quality wine region, which has a tremendous wealth of fascinating history, trade and architecture.

The centre of Bordeaux has undergone an amazing clean up. The tram system works very well. The buildings have been cleaned along the waterfront and the streets are generally very clean.
I love going to Bordeaux, although it is a good 3 and a half hours drive from my house in the Languedoc. The contrast between rural, deepest, agricultural countryside of the Minervois and the grandeur of the Chateaux in the Bordeaux area is striking. I am convinced that the best value wines are produced in the Languedoc Roussillon, but also that the finest, most classic and best quality wines are produced in Bordeaux.

I will be in Bordeaux more often this year running tailor made wine trips visiting the best Chateaux via as well as tasting at all the Chateaux in early April to see what the 2010 vintage is looking like.

From my recent visits Alfred Tesseron at Chateau Pontet Canet is very optimistic for a great wine being produced in 2010. Whilst Daniel Cathiard the owner of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in the Graves area is also very bullish for a fantastic wine. As always it will be interesting to guage the international demand for these wines during the Primeur season (between May and July). Last year the 2009's were sold very well, especially to the UK and the 2009 Burgundy campaign seems to be in full flow at the moment in the UK.